Thursday, June 17th, 2021


The Secret is Out

It's no secret that Victoria's Secret has had a secret weapon that drew plenty of secret admirers to its dirty (often, really dirty) little secrets. For years, that model (or those models) worked and proved to be the secret of company's success. But times have changed and the company is looking to reverse course. But can it work? How would I know? I'm no secret agent, man. But they're not kidding around with new marketing faces that include soccer star Megan Rapinoe. "For decades, Victoria's Secret's scantily clad supermodels with Jessica Rabbit curves epitomized a certain widely accepted stereotype of femininity. Now, with that kind of imagery out of step with the broader culture and Victoria's Secret facing increased competition and internal turmoil, the company wants to become, its chief executive said, a leading global 'advocate' for female empowerment." Victoria's Secret Swaps Angels for ‘What Women Want.' Will They Buy It? (When my wife and I were first dating, I handed her a Victoria's Secret box. She looked pretty surprised and not particularly pleased. When she opened the box, there was a sweatshirt from the university to which she had just been accepted. How did I get the box? That's my little secret...)


Care Package

"The justices, by a 7-2 vote, left the entire law intact in ruling that Texas, other GOP-led states and two individuals had no right to bring their lawsuit in federal court." The Affordable Care Act survives (again) as the Supreme Court dismisses big challenge. (It's weird that some leaders fight healthcare harder than they fight Covid.)

+ "The refusal of Philadelphia to contract with CSS for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive strict scrutiny, and violates the First Amendment." High court sides with Catholic agency in foster care dispute.


Allied Health

"That U.S. officials don't want to take the extreme step of organizing flights out of Afghanistan is understandable, but at this point, nothing else will keep our Afghan allies safe. If we leave without them, they will be killed one at a time. Their deaths will be obscure, and the news might not reach us for weeks or years, if it ever does at all, but they will haunt our memory." George Packer in The Atlantic: It's Not Too Late to Avert a Historic Shame.


State Farm Team

A brief overview of how the State Dept works: The top people meet publicly. But the real work gets done by long time employees. Over the years, these people get to know their counterparts and build the relationships that will help define diplomacy in the years to come. During the Trump era, much of that was obliterated. And it's gonna take a long time to fix it. "In an interview before taking office as the current Secretary of State, Antony Blinken warned that the departure of so many career diplomats had deeply damaged the department. That 'penalizes you in all sorts of ways that will go on for generations, not just for a bunch of years,' Blinken told me. Absent a more robust department, he said, 'We're going to get into all kinds of conflicts we might have avoided through development, through diplomacy.'" Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker: Can Biden Reverse Trump's Damage to the State Department?


June Boon Coming Soon

"Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered." We have a 12th federal holiday and the first since 1983. Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

+ Most Americans Know Little or Nothing About Juneteenth, Poll Finds. (You can say that about a lot of things.)


Whoever Smelt it Melt It

"A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, where temperatures have soared past 115 degrees this week and doctors are warning that people can get third-degree burns from the sizzling asphalt." And as one climate scientist explains, "And as bad as it might seem today, this is about as good as it's going to get if we don't get global warming under control." Meanwhile, it's not even Summer yet. Climate Change Batters the West.

+ "The magnitude of the increase is unprecedented.The Earth is warming faster than expected." NASA: Earth is trapping 'unprecedented' amount of heat.


Town Haul

"There haven't been a lot of big wins in this little town tucked between gentle green mountains in Maryland's far western reaches. Coal brought work, then took it away. The railroad meant prosperity, then stopped running. They made glass here, and then they didn't.These days, the line of cars at the First Assembly of God food giveaway is so long that the volunteers split each box into two smaller portions to feed more families.
But over the past few weeks, Lonaconing — the locals call it 'Coney' — has acquired a new shine, a glint of gold in iron country." Marc Fisher with an excellent lede and story in WaPo: Powerball mystery: Someone in this tiny town won $731 million. Now everyone wants a piece of it.


El Reality Check

"It's been five years since Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán was arrested for the last time. He's been in a US "supermax" prison since 2017, serving a life sentence after being found guilty of all 10 federal charges he faced. But according to official US data, security analysts, and some of his own lawyers, business has never been better for his cartel." (Of course. The drug world didn't decide to stop selling drugs. They just decided they'd had enough of El Chapo.)

+ 'Fentanyl has changed the whole landscape': San Francisco faces worst drug epidemic ever.


Miami Abound Machine

Town and Country: Why the Pandemic Turned Miami Into the New Monaco. "Cryptocrats, fin-techpreneurs, and the latest titans of industry fled to this southern capital of sea, sun, and sin in the past year. Can it become a tech utopia, or will it just turn into another sunny place for shady people?" (It turns out those two outcomes aren't mutually exclusive...)


Bottom of the News

"As Houlihan tells it, she and her team scrambled to figure out how the drug, which is typically used for muscle building, could've gotten into her system. Part of that effort involved writing up a "food log" chronicling every meal she'd eaten during the week she was tested. The night before her 6 a.m. drug test, Houlihan claims, she ate a pork burrito from an "authentic Mexican food truck" in Beaverton, Oregon, where she lives." Can a Burrito Actually Make You Fail a Drug Test? (Short answer: Yes.)

+ "One of the more unique items is what's billed as an authentic Theranos lab coat listed for $17,000." Sales of Elizabeth Holmes swag are soaring online.